God Learner Rebuttal; Ephemeris ephemera

From: Nick Brooke (100270.337@compuserve.com)
Date: Fri 17 Jan 1997 - 13:38:49 EET

Dave Cake raises a hoary old spectre:

> ... one which I tend to repeat every few months for some reason:
> The God Learners were ALMOST Right. The God Learners proved that
> approaching heroquests in a spirit of calculation, manipulating
> myths to gain personal power, experiment, and crush your enemies
> works well enough to keep your great empire alive for decades and
> conquer an enormous chunk of the known world.

If you changed all of that to the past tense, and note that it worked for
them (with their secret, now-lost knowledge), at that time, and that the
world has since changed, seemingly to make it impossible for anyone to mess
it around like that again, then I'll agree with you.

> If someone wants to approach heroquesting in a God Learnerish
> spirit, attempting to follow the rough outline of the quest and
> gain personal power, they should be able to do so...

They certainly would have been able to do so in the Second Age, if they
were God Learners. This doesn't mean that Joe Average HeroQuester could
have done it back then, nor that anybody (even a surviving God Learner) can
necessarily do it now (in the late Third Age). Before the GLs, nobody did
this; after them, there are no signs of anybody being able to do this; the
GLs had secret knowledge, now lost, which presumably enabled them to do
this; the world fundamentally changed at the end of the Second Age, to
prevent people from doing this. These all seem weighty caveats to me.

BTW, on this Androcles story, I think we're at risk of missing the point.
Part of the reason Androcles healed the lion was his gentle, merciful
(etc.) nature; another part was his complete lack of fear. (You'll find
this in lots of Byzantine stories about saints with "pet" wild animals:
they show that the saint in question has spiritually returned to the
pre-Fall state of Man in the Garden of Eden, or something like that).

Now, maybe a Cruel man could heal the lion too, if he saw some reason to do
so (he knew the old myth?), and could get close enough to it (using
whatever mechanic: a Gentle roll? a knock on the head?) to employ his First
Aid or Healing: remember, a wounded lion is a dangerous and angry beast,
liable to lash out.

But it's an old chestnut that HeroQuesting is, in part, subjective: maybe
by doing this he will have liberated a Cruel Lion, who will simply go off
to kill his flocks/friends/family, whereas the original Saint of the story
gained a Saintly Lion to be his follower. Just a thought...

Stephen P Martin wrote:

> I am not trying to scupper the Gloranthan Ephemeris as Nick's
> comments made it sound.

This came as news to me: Stephen's track record in this regard is hardly
cause for optimism. Based on our subsequent correspondence, I am happy to
confirm that Stephen now says he does not know what his letter to me was
actually meant to do; if so, it can't have been a conscious attempt to do
anything (support, scupper, succour, take your pick). Maybe we should let
this one lie...

> I merely wondered whether Greg Stafford, on whose work the program
> was based, knew it was going to be distributed.

I am not certain whether Stephen has Internet access; if not, maybe he is
unaware just how much material "based on Greg Stafford's work" is freely
available to the world (the Glorantha Daily, for starters!). Does anything
change because the medium in this one case is my computer program, rather
than a cult, myth, short story or rule-fix? IMHO, no. Unless Chaosium try
to pull a T$R on the Internet, which seems unlikely, non-profit material
based on *all* of our work (not just Greg's) will continue to proliferate:
and a Good Thing Too!

==== PS: I have now received confirmation that the "Ephemeris"
Nick can be successfully downloaded from my homepage and run:
==== <http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Nick_Brooke/>


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